Get to “WOW” and win over shoppers

Articles
July 17, 2009

Of all the winners when a retailer provides a “Wow” shopping experience, the most lasting benefit goes to the store, because nearly four out of five shoppers tell an average of three other people about a “Wow” experience. And a vast majority intend to shop there again. “Wow” defined goes beyond a store trip clicking, because a person plans it well and the store does its job. “Wow” is when a store goes out of its way to satisfy - which a Saks customer might expect, but not necessarily a blueberries buyer at a grocery under pressure to keep up with volume. Then again, why not make “Wow” a goal? To attain “Wow” status (and move far away from “Whew,” which seems far more common, judging by shopper gripes) requires a retailer to simultaneously deliver on six or more elements of a shopping experience. This isn’t easy, considering that the desired elements aren’t the same for all shoppers. Indeed, 1,006 respondents to an online survey in May named 28 different elements of a great shopping experience. The survey was a collaborative project between Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, Verde Group, and the Retail Council of Canada.

Of all the winners when a retailer provides a “Wow” shopping experience, the most lasting benefit goes to the store, because nearly four out of five shoppers tell an average of three other people about a “Wow” experience. And a vast majority intend to shop there again.

“Wow” defined goes beyond a store trip clicking, because a person plans it well and the store does its job. “Wow” is when a store goes out of its way to satisfy - which a Saks customer might expect, but not necessarily a blueberries buyer at a grocery under pressure to keep up with volume. Then again, why not make “Wow” a goal?

To attain “Wow” status (and move far away from “Whew,” which seems far more common, judging by shopper gripes) requires a retailer to simultaneously deliver on six or more elements of a shopping experience. This isn’t easy, considering that the desired elements aren’t the same for all shoppers. Indeed, 1,006 respondents to an online survey in May named 28 different elements of a great shopping experience. The survey was a collaborative project between Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, Verde Group, and the Retail Council of Canada.

Their report, Discovering “WOW” - A Study of Great Retail Shopping Experiences in North America, concluded that retailers have their best chance to hit on the right six or more elements for individual shoppers by first focusing on five major areas as a platform:
•    Engagement. Being polite, genuinely caring and demonstrating sincere interest in helping, acknowledging and listening.
•    Executional excellence. Patient explanation and advice, checking stock, helping find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
•    Brand experience. Exciting store design, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they’re special and that they always ‘get a deal.’
•    Expediting. Being sensitive to customers’ time and long checkout lines, and being proactive in helping speed up the shopping process.
•    Problem recovery. Helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete shopper satisfaction.

“Although ‘brand experience’ elements are by far the most important for creating shopper loyalty, they are less frequently experienced by shoppers. Retailers do a much better job at delivering ‘engagement’ experiences,” the report noted.

That just one in three shoppers (35%) have had a great shopping within the past six months, and more than 50% have had one ever underscore the difficulty of providing one.

How powerful is “WOW”?  Some “75% of shoppers who enjoyed a great experience with a specific retailer definitely intend to return to that retailer the next time they need a similar product or item,” the study found. “When shoppers encounter merely ‘standard’ experiences at a store, their likelihood to return drops by over 65%.” 

Two interesting dichotomies surface in the study:
•    While shoppers older than 60 require more than 11 great shopping elements to create a single great shopping experience (nearly 30% more than younger counterparts), the loyalty payoff among younger shoppers (particularly those age 18 to 30) is far less, generally 25% less in loyalty return.
•    While male shoppers will tell nearly 50% more people about their great shopping experience than women, it is female shoppers who are 30% more loyal and 25% likelier to return to the store where they enjoyed their great shopping experience.